We left Euroa at about 9.30 am. It was very damp and foggy and as it had rained quite a bit during the night I had to engage 4WD to drive out of our site. There were other travellers who had come in the night before cold and wet as they had not been able to get into Benalla either.
We headed down the Hume Highway and stopped at the Service Centre at Wallen for coffee and finally arrived home at about 1 pm. We unhitched and started some washing, turned on the central heating and had lunch. Then the heating stopped and would not restart. I rang Brivis and logged a service call but did not hear back. We unloaded some more stuff from the van and went food shopping. I’m exhausted. Ann whipped up a delicious dinner before an early night in our “usual” bed.
Everything else can wait a couple of days.
Despite a few grumbles over the last few days, we really did have a fantastic Winton Adventure!
We left Wagga Wagga at about 9 am in unpleasant weather. Traffic on the Sturt Highway was very heavy and we had to pull over to let trucks pass. There seems to be a strange entry from the Sturt Highway to the Hume Highway if you are heading south. We headed down the Hume and stopped about 11 am for a break. We had lunch at Miss Marple’s Café in Holbrook.
We then continued down the highway with the intention of spending the night at Benalla Showgrounds. However, the Benalla turn-offs were blocked by police due to a serious road accident. We kept going in driving rain to Euroa. The Euroa Caravan Park was a pleasant surprise. It is being upgraded and has very nice amenities and a new camp kitchen. The roadways had been asphalted the day before. We had a nice big site right on the river, although it was a bit damp underfoot (should that be underwheel?). There were lots of ducks. We went for a short walk and then settled inside for the night. We were cold and tired but it was warm in the van with the heater on.
We left Forbes about 9 am and headed for West Wyalong. We stopped at 955 Poppet Head Rest Area in Wyalong for coffee in the park. It was a nice stop set back from the road in a park setting with a big Mine Poppet Head structure. Then it was on to Temora for lunch at Lake Centenary. Only a day stop but very nice. The lake is used for V8 boat racing, water skiing, etc. Then it was down through Old Junee to Wagga Wagga Big 4 for the night where we had pizza left over from last night for dinner. We are both sick of travelling so far each day and are both feeling very tired. The roads are not wonderful. There is still a lot of water by the roadside and lots of long wide loads on the road and we seem to be having to pull over often to let trucks past.
Up early. It was cold but not freezing and raining a bit. Driving impressions today were that the roads were a bit better –not as bumpy. We saw some VERY wide vehicles coming the other way and had to pull off the road several times to let large trucks pass. Road stops seemed to generally be of a pretty poor standard.
Need to Pull off the Road for these Big Boys
We drove around the outskirts of Dubbo and were looking forward to stopping at Maccas for a treat of coffee and apple pie but we couldn’t find a place to park so we continued down the highway. We pulled in to the Mountain Creek rest area for a coffee stop before heading on to Peak Hill. Peak Hill is a nice but dying town with a closed mine and lots of lovely buildings, including 3 great antique shops. Ann cooked up bacon and eggs for lunch in the van. I found some old cars to photograph. Then it was on to Parkes. We drove through the middle of town and it is bigger than we expected. We will be back at some stage to visit “the Dish” which is nearby.
Old Car in Peak Hill
Then back on the road to the Country Club Caravan Park in Forbes. Yes it is 5 minutes walk to town. Yes it is opposite the golf course. No it is NOT flash. OK and clean with a good site and only $22.50 for the night but nothing like what we expected. We arrived at about 2 pm and set up the van without unhitching. We then walked into town and had a nice long chat with the ladies at the Information Centre. Charmaine was interested in cars and lives opposite the freecamp in Forbes. We kept walking all around town. We bought some stubbies and came back to the van via Maccas where we stopped for our treat of coffee and apple pies. We’ll get pizza delivered to the van for tea tonight as we’re both very tired.
Country Club Caravan Park in Forbes
Interesting Type of Drive Thru Site at Country Club Caravan Park in Forbes
Up early and left Lightning Ridge and headed back to the Castlereagh Highway and made our way to Walgett. We refuelled at Walgett and then parked outside the Walgett Memorial Pool in the sun for morning tea. Walgett is not a town that we think we would like to stay overnight.
Morning Tea Stop at Walgett
Then it was back on the bouncy, bumpy road before stopping at Combogolong rest area for lunch. A blue Monaro raced in and out a couple of times and the Police raced in and raced out – something was going on but we have no idea exactly what. We had a nice lunch in the sun.
Back on the road, we drove through Coonamble and on to Gulargambone and checked out the caravan park that we had intended to stay in. It was small but looked quite inviting and had some drive through sites. We drove down the street and found that it was a dead end but I somehow managed to turn the van around. It is a pretty town and it would be a restful stay. They have large corrugated iron cockies on big poles around town.
We decided to drive a bit further today so it was on to Gilgandra for the night where we stayed at the Gilgandra Caravan Park on the river. It has a beautiful, almost botanical park like setting and very clean facilities. We went for a long walk into town and had coffee and a rock cake at the Rock Cake Café/Bakery. Nice.
Great Spot at Gilgandra Caravan Park
Up early and filled the Ute with diesel before hitching up. Ann rang Lightning Ridge Outback Resort Caravan Park and booked a site for tonight. We then headed down the highway and more bad roads and road works.
Morning tea was at a nice bakery in St George. We also went to IGA and had a bit of a look around town. We both liked St George.
We then drove through more road works and bad roads before stopping for lunch in the park at Dirranbandi. We bought some supplies at the pub and continued on to Hebel, which is a tiny town with tiny Caravan Park, a quirky General Store and a Pub.
Lunch Stop at Dirranbandi
Then back on the highway and on to Lightning Ridge Outback Resort where we secured a good site. We both want to come back here. The deal is to stay 4 nights and only pay for 3 – we would stay for 8 nights as there seems to be an awful lot to see and do around town.
Welcome to Lightning Ridge
Welcome to Lightning Ridge Outback Resort
Interesting Sights at Lightning Ridge
Interesting Sights at Lightning Ridge
Interesting Sights/Sites at Lightning Ridge
After a long walk around town we had a BBQ steak dinner in the van. It had been a big day with nice weather during the day but cold at night. As long as we can stay in a powered site the caravan electrics seem to be behaving.
We were woken at 1.00 am with alarms and noises coming from the Redarc electrical cupboard. Basically it was a low battery warning alarm and in the end I had to disengage everything electrical so that we could get back to sleep. This meant that the fridge was off but the temperatures were at freezing point so we weren’t too worried about food spoilage. That alarm is not what you want to hear when you are freecamping!!
I was up very early to check everything and found that the van batteries were almost completely dead and that as we had no power; we had no water pump, no fridge and could not even flush the toilet. Fortunately I met another vanner near the amenities and we commented on the heavy frost this morning and when I mentioned our problem, he immediately offered us a loan of his generator to get us going. It’s this great vanner spirit that makes this style of travel so enjoyable, and reaffirms one’s faith in humankind.
After a couple of hours on the generator we had a decent charge in the batteries and things seemed to be back under control – at least for the time-being. We took off for Roma and stopped at Muckadilla as there was a tap in the free camp. We filled our water tank and kept going to Roma. We stopped there and bought coffees and a nut loaf for morning tea. We drove around Roma and liked what we saw.
Then it was back on the highway in the direction of Surat. We had to stop for a kangaroo and a couple of emus. There were bad roads and plenty of road works.
We had lunch at Hema 863Q Free Camp Fishing and Restocking Club Park in Surat. It was a nice place but very crowded. Ann rang ahead to St George and found that there was no room at any of the caravan parks which was a problem as we needed power for the van to recharge the batteries, etc.
Information Sign at Surat
We drove around Surat and found the Surat Caravan Park. Not wishing to take the risk of not having a powered site for the night, I pulled into a drive through ensuite spot and started setting up while Ann walked down to the pub to sort out the paperwork. We then had a wander around town (didn’t take too long) and then returned to have coffee by the van and got chatting with Gary from the Sterling next to us. We later showered and went to the pub with Sue and Gary for a few drinks and had a great night. They live in their van and do casual work all over the country. It seems like a close to ideal lifestyle.
At this point we had to make a decision about the van’s electricals. Do we try to get things fixed somewhere on the road and then take our time heading home or do we head back home quickly and get it done there. We decided that as we were quite remote and not very close to any main centres it could be difficult finding someone to fix things so we would head back home via caravan parks and make sure things were fixed by someone we knew and trusted before our next Big Adventure.
When we woke up this morning it was very cold and windy at our beautiful camp spot.
After showers and breakfast we headed for Augathella, which we inadvertently bypassed (thanks Garmin) but we continued on to Morven where we checked out a camp spot at the recreation reserve. Very nice – we would stay there. We stopped at a camp spot in Mungallala and filled up the water tanks as they were getting a bit low.
Quick Stop at Morven
Then we went on to the Neil Turner Weir freecamp area in Mitchell. This is a great spot and quite a few vans are here. It looks as though people stay here for a while, not just overnight as with many freecamps. It also looks like it has been very wet and muddy, but we have a good spot for the night. It has been a long day and a hard drive with awful roads and loads of roadkill to avoid.
Neil Turner Weir free camp at Mitchell
We are still having issues with the van electrics and will need to go to a caravan park tomorrow to recharge everything. Bummer!
We left Longreach about 10.15 am after showers, feeding the Brolga family and discussing washing machines with a couple from Melbourne in a neighbouring van.
Feeding the Brolgas at the Longreach Caravan Park
We stopped at Barcaldine for lunch – pies from the bakery in the van with coffee and apple slice. Then on to Blackall for a quick stop and on further to Stubby Bend free camp near Tambo for the night. We arrived about 3.30 pm.
Some Interesting Driving Situations Happen in the Bush
On the Way to Blackall
Stopped at Stubby Bend free camp near Tambo
We have been experiencing some issues with the caravan batteries apparently not accepting charge from the solar panel but everything seems OK tonight. We spent a gorgeous afternoon by the Barcoo River and later had pasta dinner in van.
Relaxing at Stubby Bend free camp near Tambo
Relaxing at Stubby Bend free camp near Tambo
Sunset at Stubby Bend free camp near Tambo
We left Winton about 10 am to finally head back south.
Leaving the Matilda Country Caravan Park
Big Truck on our way back South
It was a bad road but we were making good time until 19 km north of Longreach a car flicked a stone into our windscreen which resulted in a big star about the size of a 50c coin. We pulled into Longreach and checked with the O’Brien’s Windscreens representative there. They needed the Ute without the van for a couple of hours so we checked into Longreach Tourist Park again. This time we were given a drive through site in the newer area of the park. Very spacious and the brand new amenities were really nice and definitely much better than the old end where we had stayed last time.
I took the Ute to have the windscreen fixed. Fortunately the damage could be repaired so we did not need to replace the windscreen.
Later we had a refreshing drink or two at the Woolshed Bar followed by pasta for tea in the van.